Androgen receptor-dependent PSA expression in androgen-independent prostate cancer cells does not involve androgen receptor occupancy of the PSA locus

Cancer Res. 2005 Sep 1;65(17):8003-8. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-04-3679.


It is widely suspected that androgen-independent prostate cancer growth depends on androgen receptor signaling via ill-defined mechanisms. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) expression is often used to measure androgen receptor activity in cells and prostate cancer progression in patients. In the present study, we have compared androgen receptor activity using PSA and human male germ cell-associated kinase (hMAK), as read-outs in androgen-dependent LNCaP and androgen-independent C4-2B cells. As expected, very little PSA and hMAK expression were detected in LNCaP cells in the absence of androgens, whereas substantial expression of PSA was observed only in C4-2B cells under the same conditions. The addition of dihydrotestosterone to the culture medium increased the expression of both genes in both cell types. Comprehensive chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis of the entire PSA locus and an androgen-response element in hMAK unexpectedly revealed that androgen receptor was not occupying any site in the absence of dihydrotestosterone in either cell type. In line with the expression data, and in the absence of dihydrotestosterone, histone acetylation and RNA polymerase II occupancy was substantial at the PSA locus in C4-2B but not in LNCaP cells. In the presence of dihydrotestosterone, androgen receptor was found to occupy mainly the enhancer region of PSA in both cell types, accompanied with increases in histone acetylation and RNA polymerase II occupancy. Although the androgen receptor was not directly involved in the androgen-independent expression of PSA in C4-2B cells, small interfering RNA knock-down of androgen receptor significantly reduced PSA expression in both the presence and absence of dihydrotestosterone. In contrast, hMAK expression was decreased only in the presence of dihydrotestosterone after androgen receptor knock-down. We conclude that androgen-independent expression of PSA in C4-2B cells does not rely on the direct occupancy of the androgen receptor at the PSA locus, but is nevertheless affected indirectly via unknown androgen receptor-dependent mechanism(s) that influence the expression from some but not all androgen receptor target genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chromatin Immunoprecipitation
  • Dihydrotestosterone / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / genetics
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / metabolism
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / biosynthesis*
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / genetics*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Protein Kinases / biosynthesis
  • Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / biosynthesis
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism*
  • Transfection


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Dihydrotestosterone
  • Protein Kinases
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • MAK protein, human
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen